This 62-minute documentary captures the search by the Czech-American journalist, Thomas Hasler from Baltimore, for his famous father Karel Hašler, the legend of Czech music, theatre and cinema. In 2007, Thomas visits the Czech Republic to trace the life of the father he never met. The Czech writer Arnost Lustig guides him, while finishing a story about Karel Hašler’s death in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Karel Hašler was an artist of the highest order. For over ten years, he was a member of Prague’s National Theatre. He also managed the Havel family-owned Lucerna Cabaret, wrote plays, operettas and acted in vaudeville and variety shows. His seditious songs incited the Czechs to rebel against Austria- Hungary’s imperial rule, and, after the birth of the Czechoslovak Republic, Hašler’s songs targeted those who betrayed the democratic ideal. With the advent of the talkies, Hašler became a prominent film music composer, director, screenwriter and actor. After the 1939 German occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, Karel Hašler, a member of the underground, was arrested by the Gestapo in 1941, and brutally murdered in a concentration camp. The SS poured ice-cold water over him and left him outside in December frost to freeze into an ice statue. Through Hašler’s songs, archival footage and rare witnesses, the documentary reveals Hašler to be a grand persona of 20th century Czech history. By murdering Karel Hašler, the German Nazis killed Czech culture for the six years of the occupation. By filming Hašler’s life and work, the documentary attempts to resurrect the immortal balladeer.
My Concentration Camps
Novelist Arnošt Lustig travels with his son and grandson to revisit historic sites connected with the Holocaust and to recall some of the events that took place sixty years ago.